Medical conditions that affect the uterus include:
- cervical cancer
- uterine cancers
- endometrial cancer
- uterine fibroids
- uterine prolapse
- excessive bleeding or menorrhagia
Treatment options are as varied as the conditions themselves, depending on individual circumstances.
Endometriosis, also known as endometrial hyperplasia, is a condition in which the endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, causing scarring, pain, and heavy bleeding. It can often damaging the fallopian tubes and ovaries in the process.
Endometriosis can be treated with medications such as lupron for endometriosis that lowers hormone levels and decreases endometrial growths.
For endometrial cancer, also known as uterine cancer and more common among women after menopause. Standard treatment options include:
- hormone therapy
- radiation therapy
- hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus)
Three of these—radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hysterectomy—are also used to treat cervical cancer.
For benign (non-cancerous) conditions like menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding), non-surgical treatments like hormone therapy or minimally invasive ablative therapies may offer relief.
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors occurring in at least one quarter of all women. They can grow underneath the uterine lining, inside the uterine wall or outside the uterus. Many women don’t feel any symptoms with uterine tumors or fibroids. But for others, these fibroids can cause excessive menstrual bleeding (also called menorrhagia), abnormal periods, uterine bleeding, pain, discomfort, frequent urination and infertility. The following diagram depicts different types of fibroids that can occur. For fibroids, uterine-preserving myomectomy—a surgical alternative to hysterectomy—may be an option.
For most uterine conditions, if available non-surgical treatments fail to relieve symptoms, many women choose a more certain result with elective hysterectomy. Each year in the U.S. alone, doctors perform about 600,000 hysterectomies, making it the second most common surgical procedure.
While symptoms such as chronic pain and bleeding often point a woman and her doctor toward hysterectomy as the preferred treatment choice, life-threatening conditions such as cancer or uncontrollable bleeding in the uterus often necessitate a hysterectomy and follow-up treatment.
While hysterectomy is relatively safe, always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits, to determine which approach is right for you.